How Real Madrid stars Bale, Benzema and Hakimi got on in Bayern Munich warm-up

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Real Madrid's reserves all pressed their cases for inclusion against Bayern Munich.

Nearly all of Real Madrid’s big hitters sat out Saturday’s 2-1 win against Leganes as the club prioritised their midweek decider against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Brazil anchorman Casemiro was the only player to begin both the weekend’s La Liga run-out and Wednesday’s 2-1 semi-final, first leg triumph in Europe.

This stance provided opportunity to impress for some fringe players ahead of Tuesday’s clincher at Santiago Bernabeu.

Here is how Wales forward Gareth Bale, France striker Karim Benzema and Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi performed.

GARETH BALE

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 6

Dribbles – 1

Passes – 47

Key passes – 2

Pass Accuracy – 72.3%

Touches – 66

Aerials Won – 4

Tackles – 4

Interceptions  0

Much conjecture and discussion followed Zidane’s decision to keep Bale sat on the bench throughout the victory at Bayern.

Omens about being given a major role in the return did not look good when he was named in the XI for the visit of neighbours Leganes. Yet the €100 million (Dh486.1m) signing from Tottenham Hotspur in September 2013 managed to come out of this with enhanced credit.

His six shots was four more than any other team-mate, only Hakimi could match his two key passes and he acrobatically flung himself in the air for his club’s first goal.

Injury to Spain playmaker Isco has opened a route up back into the line-up.

Bale did his bit on Saturday by clearly outperforming Benzema. He should now gain requisite reward.

Gareth Bale struck for the 12th time in 23 La Liga games this season.

Gareth Bale struck for the 12th time in 23 La Liga games this season.

KARIM BENZEMA

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 1

Dribbles – 1

Passes – 29

Key passes – 1

Pass Accuracy – 79.3%

Touches – 37

Aerials Won – 0

Tackles – 2

Interceptions  2

The headline news from Zidane’s selection against Leganes was the apparent shootout it set up between Bale and Benzema to earn a spot from kick-off.

The ex-France forward produced what we have come to expect from him in 2017/18. He was neat, tidy and selfless – yet lacked any killer instinct.

Awareness of space and a cute step over let to Bale’s athletic breakthrough. His very presence – whether legally or illegally – then sowed discord in the Leganes backline and allowed Borja Mayoral to pounce for the second.

But is this enough to restore him to the starting line-up? A trio of players had more shots than him, he produced one key pass and six team-mates performed more dribbles.

A 28th La Liga run-out this term never truly threatened a sixth goal. For this reason, he can expect the best seat in the house for Bayern’s visit – the substitutes’ bench.

Karim Benzema has failed to score in 23 of his 28 La Liga run-outs in 2017/18.

Karim Benzema has failed to score in 23 of his 28 La Liga run-outs in 2017/18.

ACHRAF HAKIMI

Goals – 0

Assists – 0

Shots – 0

Dribbles – 6

Passes – 50

Key passes – 2

Pass Accuracy – 84%

Touches – 79

Aerials Won – 0

Tackles – 2

Interceptions  1

Injuries to Spain right-back Dani Carvajal and utility man Nacho have left Zidane with much to ponder.

They mean a shuffling of his pack will be required when the Bundesliga giants come to town.

The obvious choice is to push diligent right winger Lucas Vazquez back into defence. But could the emerging – and erratic – talent of Hakimi now be an option?

His eighth top-flight start of the campaign did him no harm.

His 79 touches was the joint-second most for Madrid, a pair of key passes was only matched by Bale, he led the way with six dribbles, put in the joint-most tackles with two and was the only Madrid player to complete any accurate crosses (two).

Added to this was an alertness to snub out danger when Leganes threatened through international colleague Nordin Amrabat.

It would be brave for Zidane to gift the 19-year-old a career-first Champions League starts in the knockouts. But boldness can often bring reward.

Achraf Hakimi has made 16 career appearances for Real Madrid.

Achraf Hakimi has made 16 career appearances for Real Madrid.

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